Purpose

In this method, students teach each other. Peer teaching is one of the most effective ways to learn content and practice many important skills such as explaining complex information, asking questions, and listening. This approach is designed to allow students to work together to learn a large amount of information in a short time (oftentimes in place of a long lecture or presentation). It can be used to teach and learn about multiple related concepts or cases, several key ideas relating to a particular concept, and multiple primary or secondary source documents.

Procedures 

  1. Select three or four concepts or cases you want the students to grasp.
  2. Prepare a compilation worksheet or capture sheet that has space for each of the concepts. Make enough copies for every student. You should also prepare a separate handout or reading on each of the topics you want students to learn. The handout should also include three or four questions you want students to answer about the concept or case. (Alternatively, you could list these questions on the compilation sheet.)
  3. Put students into groups. If you select three topics, you need three students in each group, if you select four topics, you need four students per group, etc. Assign a letter to each group. These are the students’ home groups. Ask students to write their home group letter at the top of their worksheet.
  4. Then assign one student in each home group to become an expert on each concept.* (If you have uneven numbers, assign two students to the same topic.) Confirm students know which topics they are assigned.
  5. Now ask students to move so they are sitting with others students who will become experts on the same topic. These new groups are called expert groups. Students assigned to the first concept should sit in one area of the room, and the second in another area, etc. Depending on how many students are in your class, you may want to further divide the expert groups so they include no more than three-to-five students.
  6. Give each expert group the reading about their topic. Ask students to read it and discuss it with their group members. They should then decide which portions of the material the students in the other groups need to learn about. They should create a list of talking points to teach other students.
  7. After the allotted “expert” time, ask students to return to their home (letter) groups. Each student will be asked to spend 5–7 minutes teaching their other home group members about their case or concept. Other students should not copy the papers of the experts. Instead, they should listen, take notes, and ask questions.
  8. After students teach their home groups, every student should have studied one case or concept in depth and learned about several others. Conclude the activity with a whole-class discussion about how the concepts relate to each other, or to emphasize especially important points.

*This strategy suggests each student is responsible for one concept or case. If you have an uneven number of students or if you have some students that would struggle with serving as a solo expert to teach others, you may wish to create home groups that are larger than the number of concepts. In that case, you could double up on experts for some concepts.